Congressional probe on looming jeepney phaseout sought
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the looming phaseout of traditional jeepneys, as drivers and operators have complained of the government’s alleged lack of support.
Salceda’s House Resolution No. 801 dated February 27 asks the House of Representatives Committee on transportation to probe the issue, especially as estimates show that around 96,000 jeepneys may lose their franchises.
As of now, the validity of the provisional franchises given to jeepney drivers was extended from June 30, 2023, to December 31, 2023, but transport groups are still wary about the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program since many cannot afford the new jeepneys worth around P2.8 million.
“PUJ (public utility jeepney) operators and drivers were the hardest-hit during the implementation of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, with as much as P102 billion in PUJ revenues being foregone during the lockdowns,” Salceda’s resolution read.
“Now therefore, be it resolved, by the House of Representatives, to direct the House Committee on Transportation to conduct inquiries, in aid of legislation on the adverse socioeconomic impacts of the planned jeepney phaseout without adequate or timely government support,” he added.
Salceda also noted that ironically, the phaseout of the traditional jeepneys might only bring higher pollution levels since many people would opt to use cars.
The PUV modernization program is hinged on the premise that modernizing jeepneys would ensure that transportation modes are safer, more efficient, and environment-friendly.
“The sudden phaseout of traditional jeepneys will result in increased car use, which will ultimately lead to more road congestion and pollution, especially as jeepneys only generate about 0.33 kg (kilogram) of carbon per capita per day, whereas even the most efficient car will generate some 2.3 kg of carbon per capita per day,” he added.
Salceda’s resolution is also timely considering that last Monday, several transport groups announced a week-long strike starting from March 6, to protest the looming phaseout of the old and traditional jeepneys.
Mar Valbuena, the chairperson of transport group Manibela, said that the strike would be in protest of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Circular Memorandum No. 2023-013, which initially set the deadline for the jeepney phaseout on June 30, 2023.
In response, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself appealed to drivers to rethink their strike, assuring transport groups that the PUV modernization program would be studied further and tweaked.
LTFRB for their part extended the validity of the provisional franchises of traditional jeepneys.
Despite these assurances, transport groups still maintained that the strike would continue.
Earlier, Salceda’s fellow House member, Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said that he hopes the extension of the franchise validity would result in fine-tuning the PUV modernization program, to make it more suitable for traditional jeepney drivers and operators.